Hamburger chain McDonald's is creating 2,500 new jobs in Britain in 2012, with more than half going to people under the age of 25, a group hard hit by the economic downturn.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who visited the fast-food group's British training centre in North London on Tuesday, said the new jobs were fantastic news, particularly for young people.

McDonald's said about 30 percent of the positions would go to first-time workers, helping them gain a foothold in the world of work. The company did not have an immediate answer to how many jobs would be full-time.

Unemployment among 16-24 year-olds rose to 1.043 million in November, some 22.3 percent of young people, as total jobless numbers hit a 17-year high, the government said last week.

McDonald's has fared relatively well from a downturn in consumer spending thanks to its competitive prices. It said Britain, along with France, Germany and Russia, was a standout market in the region last month when it updated on November trading.

The company operates just over 1,200 restaurants across Britain and Ireland, serving 2.5 million customers a day.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Steve Addison)